Well, I got my first real six string. Bought it at the five-and-dime.
OK, that wasn’t me. That was some Canadian dude.
My summer of ’69 was more about a dim awareness. Of moon landings and Mad magazine. Of hippies and Nixon and ‘Nam. Oh my…
And the Mets. I had a dim awareness of the Mets that began to sharpen that summer.
This is the final form it took: “It will always be this way.”
So the seeds of my romantically fatal baseball tendencies were planted at the very moment of my conception as a fan.
However, I didn't have even a dim awareness of baseball cards at this point. My brother was four years older, but he was not really into sports, so cards hadn’t made their way into my house.
And all apologies, but I don’t feel like I missed too much. The ‘69 card fronts are kind of a lazy amalgamation of the ’67 and ’68 sets, and expansion appears to have given the airbrushers a fit.
Further evidence of the essential torpor surrounding the set can be found there on Al Jackson's left sleeve. If you squint a bit, you'll see a World's Fair commemorative patch. Which the Mets wore in 1964 and 1965...
The reverses are actually kind of cool, with a bubblegum pink background and a comic, as space allows. Plus, I love the way the loop of the “t” in the Topps logo cradles the card number.
One of the joys of Topps high-number series up through 1973 is that they often reveal long-forgotten footnotes to baseball history.
They trace within their lines the trajectory of once-great figures playing out the strings of their careers, in far-flung outposts that defy our natural associations.
Take Leo the Lip here. You might think of Leo the player as a Cardinal and a Dodger. I know I think of Leo the manager as a Dodger and a Giant and a Cub. But seeing him with the Astros, even in this airbrushed form, just doesn’t seem right.
I imagine him getting dressed in the Astrodome locker room with his back turned to the mirror.
And around about the 6th inning, I see him gazing out through the plastic Houston night in search of just a little patch of ivy…
No Ahab am I, but I do have some proverbial white whales that I chase with no real hope of ever landing:
1967 Topps Stand Up Ron Swoboda 1967 Topps Discs Cleon Jones 1968 Topps 3D Ron Swoboda 1970 Topps Cloth Gary Gentry 1970 Topps Candy Lid Tom Seaver
I don’t think this 1972 Cloth Frisella qualifies as a white whale, because it’s not really that hard to find.
Somewhere I have a photo of my dog standing in front of my bedroom door, and the door is covered with crusty Wacky Packages and misshapen 1972 Cloth stickers. And if I had access to these Cloths back in the day, they could not have been too scarce.
However, I did spend a fair amount of time looking for a graded version of this Frisella with the backing intact, and it felt like a steal for the $15 or so I paid.
I suppose I’d sharpen my harpoon again for a Jim Fregosi BP…